Double the Options, Double the Brands?

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The big story in the logo design world this week is that of Netflix/Qwikster. If you are familiar with Netflix, you know that there are two options: having DVDs arrive in your mail, and streaming them on your computer or gaming device. Netflix will now be only used in reference to the streaming aspect of the company, while the envelopes in your mailbox will bear the name Qwikster.

This is a risky move for the company. The Netflix brand works. People associate the name with receiving DVDs in the mail and many have come to look forward to receiving the familiar red envelopes. There are some risky changes to the pricing structure as well; while people were once allowed to use both services for a single low price, that same price will now get them one or the other. In other words, customers will need to pay twice what they are used to paying.

Every business eventually has to raise prices or change their services; it is a fact of doing business in the modern world. The cost of doing business is always increasing, so the costs passed on to the customer must increase as well. However, changing prices while changing up your brands at the same time can be a risky proposition. I’m sorry if this article overuses the word risky, but there is really no other way to describe the recent changes in the company.

The new Qwikster logo is not really up to snuff. It does not tie into the Netflix brand in any way; there are no similarities in font, colors or other visual devices. The font that it uses is nineties retro, which matches the twice-misspelled name. The Netflix name is simple and phonetically spelled; the new one defies English language logic. Moreover, the word Qwikster is a little disingenuous considering that it is the most time-consuming method getting a movie outside of buying it in an internet store. People can stream movies, rent them from Blockbuster or trot down to their local Redbox kiosk in less time than it takes for a movie to arrive in the post. The majority of customers are aware of this, so who is the company trying to fool?

The new logo does have a few possibilities, however. I like the shape of the letter Q, and it is possible that the name may be shortened simply to this letter in the future. The rest of the wording looks cheap—not as in inexpensive, but as in low quality. And what does the word Qwikster have to do with movies, anyway?

When you are offering two very different services, it can make sense to rebrand so that the two are distinctly different brands. However, this is not the case with Netflix’s streaming vs mail delivery methods. It is the same product—a movie—with a different means of delivery. No differentiation is needed. Further, changing the fee structure and the name at the same time may come across to customers as sneaky. In an age of intense mistrust toward corporations, no company can afford to make that mistake.